Week 4 - Vegetables you can grow anywhere
Growing your own veg is wonderful as you get the freshest tasting, healthy produce with no food miles and you have no need to use any chemicals so it's great for the environment and you. But what about people who don't have a garden or an allotment? Fear not, as I reckon that unless you live in an unheated igloo at the North Pole everyone can grow some veg.
1. Cress and sprouted seedsDon't just save growing cress for the kids. Get some damp tissue paper in a small tray/dish, scatter with cress seeds and place somewhere warm. As soon as the seeds start to grow place on a sunny windowsill and turn daily to stop them leaning too much into the light. Keep the paper damp and hay presto, in a few days you'll be cutting cress to go in your egg sandwiches and salads. If you enjoy a spring roll packed full of bean sprouts or a nice Chinese stir-fry, what could be nicer than cooking your own home- grown sprouts? There are various specialist jars and sprouting systems available or at its simplest you can use a large glass jar.
2. Herbs and chillies in pots insideMany herbs will happily grow in a pot on a windowsill and garden centres sell lovely herb pots which you can put them in. Suitable herbs include chives, parsley, marjoram, oregano and basil. For herbs that are too big or outgrow the windowsill you can plant them in a pot by the door. Now you can enjoy fresh herbs in your cooking and on salads.
3. Small vegetables in pots outsideVarious small vegetable will grow quite happily in containers on a patio or by the front door so long as they have light. Vegetables you might like to try include small round carrots, radishes, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and dwarf French beans. You can also buy specialist seeds for micro-veg meaning that even traditionally larger vegetables are now possible in containers and pots.
4. Tumbling tomatoes in a hanging basketCertain tomato plants have been developed that are quite happy to tumble downwards from a hanging basket. Hang the basket somewhere warm and sunny and make sure you keep it well watered and you'll soon be harvesting your own cherry tomatoes.
5. MushroomsMushroom kits appeared on the market a few years ago and you don't even need a sunny windowsill for them. The easy to use kits come with instructions and everything you need to grow your own mushrooms in dark warm place ... just one word of warning - if you have a cat you may want to keep the box away from them. My cat thought we'd bought him a new litter tray!
|Image from Flickr|
6. Cut and come again lettuce in a window boxWhilst your inside window sills may be home to chilli plants and herbs you can grow cut and come again lettuces plants in a window box on the outside sill from late spring to autumn. Cut and come again, as the name suggests and lettuce plants that you pick by cutting when they are small and they will re-sprout several times for more leaves. In the shops these are sold as the ridiculously expensive baby salad leaves or mesclun. And if you have space you can bring the box inside in winter and they will carry on growing, albeit more slowly.
7. Veg in the flower bedSome vegetables are so pretty they will not look out of place in the flower bed. In fact many public gardens and gardens at national Trust properties do this and it takes ll my will power not to snaffle a few veggies for myself! Suitable plants include Cavolo Nero, a dark green kale with wonderful dimpled leaves, chard, especially rainbow chard where the stems come in a multitude of colours, purple curly kale (below), globe artichokes and sweetcorn. For height you could grown runner beans which originally were only grown for their flowers, not their beans. In fact this is still the case in France where you have to look in the flower section to find runner bean seeds. Mixing the beans with sweet peas or morning glory adds even more colour without reducing the bean harvest.
So you see - everyone must have somewhere they can grow their own veg even if you have no space for a vegetable garden or you can't get an allotment. Have you grown vegetables anywhere else unusual that I have missed?